No, I'm not getting into the whole evolution vs Intelligent Design debate. While I'm one of the first to recognize that there are significant issues with evolution, intelligent design is logically flawed as it tries to use a negative proof as an affirmative proof, and you can't do that. Don't worry, I'll go through that later on.
But what I'm talking about right now is us, humans, and the fact that we are not simply products of natural processes. If we are simply products of natural processes, like evolution, then all that we hold as exemplifying the best of humanity, our empathy, generosity, altruism, self sacrifice, all of these are evolutionary defects that will drag us down to extinction eventually.
Now that's a pretty bold statement, but it is the simple truth. You'll hear differently as secular humanists try to find a way to say that man may be an animal, but he is inherently good and civilized, and that when left to their own devices, most folks will behave with simple decency. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth, as we see proven out every time there is a crisis of some kind. For every story of heroism, we find dozens of stories of people taking advantage of the tragedy for their own benefit, or worse. In New Orleans after Katrina, in L.A, after the Rodney King verdict, we saw rioting, looting and horrific violence.
Are these the acts of beings who are intrinsically good? Would an entire nation of good people follow the Nazi path to racial genocide?
Let's take a step back and start from the beginning. If we are products of evolution and nothing else, then we are subject to the same laws and rules as every other animal on earth. The first rule is that the process of evolution occurs to the individual, not the species. This is a very important rule to understand because it is the underpinning of the evolutionary framework. Species do not evolve, individuals do. Genetic mutation, the rolling dice that drives evolution occurs in an individual organism. If the change is advantageous, which is defined as giving that organism an edge in survival, then that mutation will be passed along to the organism's offspring. Those individuals in the species which mutate in neutral or disadvantageous ways will produce fewer offspring and those offspring will be less able to compete for mates and resources.
Now, how does this rule play out in human terms? Let's look at the behavior of another mammal and see. When a pride of lions gets a new alpha male, that male will often go through the pride and kill all of the cubs. The females then come into season, and the new alpha breeds with the females, thus replacing the old alpha's progeny with his own, presumably stronger genetic material. This behavior is a result of a successful genetic mutation which causes the individual with the stronger genetic profile to remove the inferior genetic material from the breeding pool.
That's nature folks. Not too pretty is it? If humans behaved that way, we'd lock 'em up wouldn't we? Well, we do. Check any criminal statistics database for domestic violence and compare the statistics for biological parents vs step parents and you will see that there is far more child abuse in families with a step parent. And when we lock up those parents that abuse their step kids, and prevent them from acting to pass on their presumably stronger genetic material, what is the evolutionary impact?
A weaker next generation.
That's evolution folks, and it pretty much sucks as a basis for any kind of ethical code.
Now the secular humanists tell us that while self interest is the bedrock of human behavior, they've built up an artificial construct they call enlightened self interest and reciprocal altruism that they say explains why humans behave towards other humans with compassion, sympathy, empathy, and altruism.
It's a crock.
Sure, you can find behaviors in the animal kingdom that seem to confirm this construct, particularly in herd animals, where beta males will act as guards and defenders of the herd. However, there's a key difference. When the predator strikes and pulls down his prey, the guardian animals chalk it up as one for the lions and walk away. They do not come between the predator and his prey once the defensive position has failed.
Another key difference is in how humans vs. animals treat their newly born. Imperfect offspring in the wild die, often killed outright by its parents. While that is becoming a more popular option in modern society, it is hard for me to consider that an advance in civilization, more a return to our animal nature. However, in most cases, our imperfect infants are kept alive, often through the expenditures of tremendous amounts of time and effort. From a purely evolutionary standpoint, this is folly. First, it is a tragic misuse of resources that could better be used to save lives that have more chance of being meaningful and more importantly, productive. Second, it increases the possibility of weak genetic material being passed on to future generations, slowing the natural progress of evolution.
The final difference, and the one that is the key as far as I am concerned is that the acts we hold as being the most evocative of our humanity are those that are most contra-evolution. For example, the soldier who throws himself on a grenade to save his fellows is acting in a way that diminishes his ability to pass on his genetic material. Under evolution, his behavior is a mistake. The industrious man who gives away everything he made to strangers over his own children is another example of an evolutionary mistake. In fact, anytime a human does something for another human with no thought of benefit for himself or his offspring is committing evolutionary suicide. Charity, altruism, heroism, and self sacrifice are all evolutionary dead ends.
Well, that's not entirely true. A cynical person could find a use for these behaviors, and actively encourage them in order to take advantage of them, and this is the ultimate explanation for the continued existence of these behaviors, at least, according to the secular humanists. In this explanation, unselfish behaviors are encouraged by the smartest members of the group in order to achieve an advantage over the rest. By in effect handicapping others with the drive to take care of those less fortunate, the smarter ones, who feel no such compunction, are able to operate more efficiently to procure a greater amount of the available resources, thus improving their offspring's survivability.
If that is the truth of science, then O Lord, give me fantasy every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Rather than inventing esoteric constructs like reciprocal altruism or cynical interpretations to explain away the undeniable existence of an impulse in man to rise above his animal nature and to try to do good, I'll stick with the Bible that tells us that we are not animals, we are men, created in the image of God.
Created, not evolved, and no, I'm not dismissing evolution. Gen2:7 says:
And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Compare that to Gen 2:19
Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought [them] to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that [was] its name.
Did you see the critical difference there? God breathed life into Adam after forming him; He didn't do the same after forming the animals. The mechanism that God used to form the animals and Adam may have been the same, but He took as extra step with Adam, breathing life into him.
And when God made Eve, he didn't form her from the lifeless dust, but took her from the living Adam, transferring the gift of life to her as well.
Clearly, the Bible tells us that man was created differently than the animals, and given a different role, dominion.
But wait, there's more!
Because Adam and Eve sinned, and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they gained the ability to recognize good and evil. In essence, they developed a conscience. Paul speaks in detail of this conscience in Romans chapter 2 14-16.
for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves,
who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves [their] thoughts accusing or else excusing [them])
in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.
We are more than the animals in the fields and we are subject to a higher Law that kill or be killed. Rejecting this truth makes us no different than the animals in the forest and jungles, and elevates "Kill or be killed" as the new Golden Rule.
I'm better than that. That's why I am a Christian.
Next time, we're going to start talking about what it means to be a Christian, and I guarantee there will be some surprises.